Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
October 25, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 10     (10 of 60 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 10     (10 of 60 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
October 25, 2013

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE IOA HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 25, 2013 Wilt Chamberlain's Jewish role models Library of Congress Wilt Chamberlain, playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, faces Nate Thurmond of the San Francisco Warriors in 1966. By Robert Gluck With the 2013-14 National Basketball Association sea- son set to begin Oct. 29, this month also marks the 14th anniversary of the death of Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest players ever. Beyond his eye-popping statistics, a closer look at the 7-foot-1 center's life reveals the gi- ant influence of Jewish role models. Robert Cherry, who played basketball at Chamberlain's alma mater, Philadelphia's Overbrook High School, explains that "lots of Jewish kids" went to the school. After Chamberlain attended the University of Kansas and played for the Harlem Globe- trotters exhibition team, bas- ketball pioneer Eddie Gottlieb would convince him to join the NBA's Philadelphia War- riors. Gottlieb also got him a summer job at Kutsher's, the well-known Borscht Belt resort, where Chamberlain bonded with owner Milton Kutsher. Ike Richman signed Chamberlain to his first con- tract with the Warriors, Stan Lorber was his personal phy- sician, and Sy Goldberg was his lawyer and the executor of his estate. What is the common thread among Chamberlain's men- tors? "Besides them being Jew- ish, they were people first, Jewish men second, and the traits that made them suc- cessful were traits lots of suc- cessful people have," Cherry, author of "Wilt: Larger Than Life," told "Wilt responded to that. They gave him direction and he admired their discipline, values, ethics, their performance and sense of humor." Chamberlain, who died in October 1999, is the only player to score 100 points in an NBA game, and to average more than 50 points (or even 40) per game in a season. He averaged better than 30 points and 20 rebounds per game over the course of his career, while no other player ever produced those averages during a single season. He won scoring titles in seven seasons, and 11 rebounding titles. He once even led the league in assists. But while the salient image of Chamberlain is his domina- tion of NBA courts, he also left his mark on the Borscht Belt--the chain of resorts in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains that were a popular vacation spot for New York City Jews, peaking from the 1920s until the 1970s. "Summertime also meant getting away from the hot city and venturing to Kutsher's Country Club in the Catskill Mountains, where the air was clear and refreshing, and HERITAGE Presents The SPECIAL (',00[ANUKAH ISSUE Publication Date ember 22, 2013 Deadline: November 13, 2013 A Chanukah Greeting is a Good Way to Thank Your Jewish Customers for Their Patronage or to Sell Your Holiday Merchandise For More Information Call 407-834-8787 the creamed herring alone was worth the trip," Cherry writes in his book. "It was also at this resort that, in the summer of 1954, [Eddie] Got- tlieb, with the help of Haskell Cohen, then the NBA publicity director, had landed Wilt, a budding scholastic star, a job as a bellhop." Milton Kutsher, owner of the resort with his wife Helen, made a lasting impression on him. Subsequently, the Kutshers kept up a lifelong friendship with Chamberlain. "We thought of Wilt as an extended member of our family," Helen Kutsher tells Cherry in the book. "I used to kid him, 'You're like my fourth child. He always stayed in touch, and we'd talk dur- ing the year. He never really left us." Before Eddie Gottlieb-- who got Chamberlain that summer job at Kutsher's-- owned the Philadelphia War- riors, he founded the pre-NBA Philadelphia SPHAS, a team whose jerseys featured the Hebrew letters (samach, pey, hey, aleph) from which its name was derived. The SPHAS won seven Ameri- can League championships from 1934 to 1945, and the modern NBA was founded in 1946. Rich Westcott, author of"The Mogul: Eddie Gottlieb: Philadelphia Sports Legend and Pro Basketball Pioneer," says Gottlieb played a key role in Chamberlain's rise to NBA stardom. "Ironically, Gotty (Got- tlieb's nickname) could look out the windows of his house on Salford Street, and in the distance he could see Over- brook High School a few miles away," Westcott told JNS. org. "How's that for a start in the relationship between the two? Over the years, Got- tlieb went to watch Wilt play as a schoolboy. He earned Wilt's admiration as one of the driving forces behind the integration of professional basketball." Westcott explained that Gottlieb "became the person who devised and championed a new element in the NBA draft, which gave teams the territorial rights to high school players from their areas." That element would eventually land Chamberlain with the Philadelphia War- riors. "Instead of having to wait for a player to complete col- lege, the short-lived rule al- lowed players such as Wilt to be drafted by their local team. Hence, when the time came, Wilt became a Warrior, and Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff photographer via Wikimedia Commons Wilt Chamberlain wearing his Harlem Globetrotters uniform in 1959. He played one season for the team, after which Jewish basketball pioneer Eddie Gottlieb convinced him to leave for the Philadelphia Warriors. that in itself played a major role in Wilt's long path to the Hall of Fame," Westcott said. According toWestcott, Got- tlieb had talked Chamberlain out of playing another year with the Harlem Globetrot- ters, an exhibition team Chamberlain played with during the 1958-59 season after he left the University of Kansas early and was not yet eligible for the NBA. Gottlieb offered Chamberlain a salary he couldn't refuse--S30,000, the highest in the NBA at the time. Chamberlain's signing with the Warriors cemented his bond with Gottlieb. They remained close friends even after Gottlieb sold the War- riors. Years later, when Cham- berlain was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, he gave Gottlieb the ball with which he had scored his 20,000th career point, according to Cherry's book. "All of these situations over the years, and the fact that Gotty played a major role in the development of Wilt's career, explains why they had such a close relationship," Westcott told "Gotty was in many ways Wilt's men- tor and Wilt had a tremendous respect for him and the role he played in his career." Another Jewish role model for Chamberlain was Ike Rich- man, who signed Chamber- lain to his first contract with the Warriors as the team's attorney and was later Cham- berlain's personal lawyer. After the Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco, Richman and Irv Kosloff bought the Syra- cuse Nationals franchise and moved it to Philadelphia, renaming it the 76ers. Cherry says Richman was Chamber- lain's most trusted business adviser, the confidant who helped him with his personal problems, and a father figure. When Richman died in De- cember 1965, Chamberlain-- who was traded to the 76ers that year and would play with the team until 1968--said, "I owe that man all I have today." By the end of his careerwith the Philadelphia/San Francis- co Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers, Chamberlain amassed numerous NBA records in scoring, rebounding, and durability. He won two NBA championships, earned four Most Valuable Player awards, and was selected to 13 All-Star Games. Yet a series of emails Cherry says he recently received, all pointing to a particular video of Chamberlain that surfaced on the Internet, indicate that fans also remember the basketball legend's bellhop career. "Ten people sent it to me," Cherry said of the video. "It's Wilt working as a bellhop at Kutsher's. He's handing suitcases to another bellhop on the second floor." Abbas on Palestine: 'No peace without Jerusalem as its capital' ( Palestinian Au- thority President Mahmoud Abbas said on the topic of a future Palestinian state that therewill be"no peacewithout Jerusalem as its capital." "I will not compromise on the 1967 borders as the border for our Palestinian state; there is no peace without Jerusalem as its capital," Abbas said on Palestinian TV, reported WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority news agency. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained that Jerusalem, World Economic Forum Mahmoud Abbas which was divided by Jorda- Six-Day War, will remain as nian forces from 1949-1967 the undivided capital ofIsrael and won by Israel in the 1967 inany final status agreement.